Hongik Station, Exit 3
Delayed flights in Manila are commonplace, almost a requirement for our every flight, really. My flight to Incheon on October 4 was one with the gang and that left me with so much time to make myself anxious about the month to come. I was kicking myself a couple of times in my head, Why did you even book a solo travel to Seoul when you haven’t gone outside Manila alone? My mind was racing through every awful scenario that might happen to me as I look for my hostel* in Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Maybe people will try to snatch my phone and bag away from me, I wouldn’t be able to survive the whole month, what if I lose my passport while exploring, what if someone barges in my apartment and takes all my money away?
I arrived in Hongik Station at around 11 in the evening and nothing have felt more coming home than this. No one tried to take my phone away as I looked for my hostel, only the occassional glance of pity for a foreigner not knowing where to go. It didn’t even take me 5 minutes to locate the place. At night!
Yeonnamdong, just like how the area around Hongdae is always described, is a haven for creatives — particularly the fashion creative souls. But somehow, I still found myself in a shop where they sell stationery, random bits and bobs, bags and furnitures for the home. Mornings in Yeonnamdong are nothing but peaceful and filled with the smell of coffee – definitely a nice place to enjoy mornings in Seoul. And it isn’t a true Korean morning without the Americano drink. I enjoy the iced kind despite it being a little chilly already when I visited because I feel like it tastes less bitter that way. Seoulites enjoy it in many ways: hot, straight from the convenience store or enjoyed with a bread or cookie while people-watching (which I obviously did).
Aside from shops and cafes, Yeonnamdong is also popular for the youth hostels and its night life. It’s a different kind over this side of Hongdae though – more laid back and chill compared to the central part where music blazes practically everywhere. In Yeonnamdong, groups of friends have picnics at 12 midnight, have drinks by the cafes-turn-bars by night, and have dates with their significant others strolling the Gyeongui Line Forest.
A couple of blocks away from my quiet side of the world is the intersection which somehow connects Yeonnamdong to the outside world**. Sitting here are the more commercialized shops, basically those that are advertised with Kpop idols. This is where students and workers collide, people rushing to the bus stop, running towards the subway entrances or grabbing a coffee quickly. Everyone’s headed somewhere and it’s nice to know, for once, I’m not.
I had a week to explore the neighborhood of Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu but I know I barely scratched the surface and culture underlying this peaceful area of Seoul.
** Easier to go to from Hongik Exit 9/1